WILTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - State animal welfare officials say many of the 75 dogs and more than 20 birds removed from a Wilton home last week were living in unsanitary conditions and were sick.
"There was a complaint sent to the animal welfare program that initiated the investigation," explained Liam Hughes, Director of the state's Animal Welfare Program. "During the course of the investigation, the agent found enough probable cause to initiate the search warrant because the animals were not being kept in accordance with Maine state laws."
"It is a lot of work when you come into a situation that has that many animals that are in that much need for proper care," added Hughes. "It takes a lot out of the agents, and out of the shelter workers."
"Currently all the animals are being cared for and we are evaluating all their medical needs. We are making sure that everybody is going to get the proper medical care now and that they are going to be ok."
Hughes says that the investigation is still open and is now in the hands of the Franklin County District Attorney's office. The resident has not been charged.
Court records indicate a majority of the dogs were deemed very thin or emaciated. Some had dental disease, hair loss and scabbing from chronic flea infestations, overgrown toenails, ear and eye infections and long hair matted with feces. Many had parasites.
Among the dog breeds were dachshunds, pugs, Pomeranians, French bulldogs and shih tzus. There were seven parakeet-type birds, six lovebirds and four canaries as well as chickens.
They have been taken to the Franklin County Animal Shelter. Receiving 75 dogs in one day has put a lot of stress on the shelter's resources and staff according to its executive director Heidi Jordan.
"We are going through a lot of food for sure," she stated. "The impact for us right now is staff fatigue and staff overtime, because you do have to be careful that people are getting the proper amount of rest when dealing with extenuating circumstances like this."
Jordan says the community has already rallied around them, but they will need a lot of donations to help care for the animals until a court decides who should be granted custody of the them in a couple months.
She says cash, blankets, paper towels, dog beds, bleach and dog food are among the items that are most in demand. She says they could also use volunteers to help care for and play with their animals that are waiting to be adopted while the staff is focusing a lot of their energy on the dogs and birds that were seized and in need of medical care.
People interested in helping out are encouraged to contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the shelter at 207-778-2638. If you would like to send money to help cover some of the costs, you can use their Pay Pal account or send checks to:
Franklin County Animal Shelter
550 Industry Rd.
Farmington, ME 04938
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)